What to do if you find yourself on Canary Mission

 

I have been giving a lot of thought lately to the many students listed on the website Canary Mission, a blacklist for students, professors, individuals, and organizations involved in Palestine solidarity activism. The goal of the site is to discourage students in particular from becoming active on campus because their name and activities could be added to the dossier and thus hamper their job prospects after graduation.

There are a number of questionable or stupid comments by people on the list that have been screen capped for all eternity in a sea of mostly garden-variety, standard anti-Zionist activity. I am the first to admit that I have said some questionable things on the internet and I don't believe that if someone says something idiotic once, that makes them a racist or an antisemite or a horrible person or that they should tarred and feathered on the first page of Google for the rest of their life. I believe we are more than our internet comments. I bet you, dear reader, have probably said something fairly inept on the internet before that you'd prefer not be the first thing that comes up on Google.

That being said, what can be done about it? Here are some ideas:

1) Be positive

Register your name as a domain, create a website and create positive, helpful content on the internet. You could start your own blog, YouTube channel, or Instagram focusing on your hobbies or helping others and link these to your website. You could put your coding projects online. Make sure it's the kind of content that would impress a future employer. Volunteer at a nonprofit and document the work you do online through photos, video and writing. Google will learn that your domain is more legit than Canary Mission and it will appear higher up.

Zoha Khalili, staff attorney at Palestine Legal adds:

"I generally encourage people to try to put out content and info about themselves so that their web presence reflects their actual viewpoint and activities and not Canary Mission's. If you are in a local paper or school paper or on LinkedIn, Google recognizes that that info is more valid than Canary Mission, so it will be more prominent in your search results."

2) Become an entrepreneur

Start your own business. This is not for everyone, but it is possible and there are plenty of young people out there doing it. One of the reasons I ended up starting my own business was because after I returned from 3 years in Palestine, with all the interviews I had given, articles I had written and cartoons I created, I knew it would probably be pretty hard for me to get a "real job."

3) Follow your heart

Start your own nonprofit that employs you. Clearly you are the type that loves to help those less fortunate, so why not start a nonprofit that addresses some of the problems you care about? Think of the many prominent activists who work full time at nonprofits they helped launch.

4) Resist internet mobs

Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. I believe that what we put out there comes back to us. If you see someone being internet mobbed for something stupid they said or something that others just don't agree with, resist internet call out culture which cherry picks regrettable comments from people and ruins their lives.

5) Add yourself to Against Canary Mission

As Noam mentioned in the comments section below, there is a site called Against Canary Mission. Check it out and add yourself to it. It's a great opportunity to let your stance for justice shine !

If you have any other ideas for anyone blacklisted by Canary Mission, please leave them in the comments! You may also contact Palestine Legal for further advise on a case by case basis. If you're on Canary Mission I'd also like to hear from you in the comments below. Share your approach with us.

What to do if you find yourself on Canary Mission

 

I have been giving a lot of thought lately to the many students listed on the website Canary Mission, a blacklist for students, professors, individuals, and organizations involved in Palestine solidarity activism. The goal of the site is to discourage students in particular from becoming active on campus because their name and activities could be added to the dossier and thus hamper their job prospects after graduation.

There are a number of questionable or stupid comments by people on the list that have been screen capped for all eternity in a sea of mostly garden-variety, standard anti-Zionist activity. I am the first to admit that I have said some questionable things on the internet and I don't believe that if someone says something idiotic once, that makes them a racist or an antisemite or a horrible person or that they should tarred and feathered on the first page of Google for the rest of their life. I believe we are more than our internet comments. I bet you, dear reader, have probably said something fairly inept on the internet before that you'd prefer not be the first thing that comes up on Google.

That being said, what can be done about it? Here are some ideas:

1) Be positive

Register your name as a domain, create a website and create positive, helpful content on the internet. You could start your own blog, YouTube channel, or Instagram focusing on your hobbies or helping others and link these to your website. You could put your coding projects online. Make sure it's the kind of content that would impress a future employer. Volunteer at a nonprofit and document the work you do online through photos, video and writing. Google will learn that your domain is more legit than Canary Mission and it will appear higher up.

Zoha Khalili, staff attorney at Palestine Legal adds:

"I generally encourage people to try to put out content and info about themselves so that their web presence reflects their actual viewpoint and activities and not Canary Mission's. If you are in a local paper or school paper or on LinkedIn, Google recognizes that that info is more valid than Canary Mission, so it will be more prominent in your search results."

2) Become an entrepreneur

Start your own business. This is not for everyone, but it is possible and there are plenty of young people out there doing it. One of the reasons I ended up starting my own business was because after I returned from 3 years in Palestine, with all the interviews I had given, articles I had written and cartoons I created, I knew it would probably be pretty hard for me to get a "real job."

3) Follow your heart

Start your own nonprofit that employs you. Clearly you are the type that loves to help those less fortunate, so why not start a nonprofit that addresses some of the problems you care about? Think of the many prominent activists who work full time at nonprofits they helped launch.

4) Resist internet mobs

Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. I believe that what we put out there comes back to us. If you see someone being internet mobbed for something stupid they said or something that others just don't agree with, resist internet call out culture which cherry picks regrettable comments from people and ruins their lives.

5) Add yourself to Against Canary Mission

As Noam mentioned in the comments section below, there is a site called Against Canary Mission. Check it out and add yourself to it. It's a great opportunity to let your stance for justice shine !

If you have any other ideas for anyone blacklisted by Canary Mission, please leave them in the comments! You may also contact Palestine Legal for further advise on a case by case basis. If you're on Canary Mission I'd also like to hear from you in the comments below. Share your approach with us.



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6 comments

  • What would also be helpful are to find out what the state laws are on what actions constitute unlawful harassment and whether Canary Mission would be considered an accessory to such a crime. That might lead to some interesting communications with state Attorney Generals’ offices, don’t you think? It would also be something with which to counter such accusations; informing anyone contacted, based on being in their database, that the person doing the contacting was committing a crime.

    Laura Standley
  • Canary Mission’s accusations and distortions are so off-the-charts I’d expect it to be relatively simple to refute them.

    One thing targets of Canary Mission’s smear campaign can do is to find a person NOT on the list to write a refutation or correction on the misinformation given.

    Rather than turn around & do to it (CM) what it’s doing to us, have a database of the same people (that Canary Mission has); give it a good name; and offer extremely positive reviews of what their members are doing.

    Make it a kind of who’s who of human rights activists— teachers, students, & anyone else.

    Jennifer Loewenstein
  • Thomas’ suggestion exists: http://againstcanarymission.org/
    If you’re on Canary Mission, please add yourself to the other one as well.

    Noam
  • Great ideas, Katie.

    You got me thinking. Suppose someone set up an “opposite” website whose purpose is to extoll the virtues and accomplishments of folks who Canary Mission condemns. I expect the volume of visitors to that “opposite” website and the rate of updates to the site would cause its Internet ranking to be much better (higher) than Canary Mission’s ranking. Employers and everyone else would thus see the “opposite” website first, before encountering the Canary Mission’s website.

    Thomas
  • Thanks Sarah, that’s a good idea too.

    Katie Miranda

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